Local News

Jul 29, 2014 10:09 PM by Bart Bedsole - bbedsole@kristv.com

Judge Orders CCISD Officials To Give Depositions In Student Death

CORPUS CHRISTI - A judge on Tuesday ordered four CCISD administrators to undergo depositions in the pending lawsuit related to the death of a student.

Cameron Espinosa, 13, died on the football field at Haas Middle School after suffering a severe reaction to ant bites during a game in September of 2013.

Days after his death, his family retained the Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys law firm to look into the death and potentially represent them in a lawsuit against CCISD.

His mother, Josephine Limon Espinosa, said they want to find out what happened that day and also to try and prevent it from ever happening again.

After months of legal wrangling, Court Court 4 Judge James Klager ruled Tuesday that the family's attorneys can depose CCISD Superintendent Scott Elliff, Haas Middle School Principal Dr. Lynda Deleon, Haas football coach Ryan Elizondo, and CCISD Facilities and Maintenance Director Brett Bostian.

Attorneys for CCISD argued that the district has sovereign immunity from lawsuits like this, and therefore the officials shouldn't be subject to depositions.

Sovereign immunity typically protects governmental entities, including school districts, from lawsuits for money damages.

Klager responded, saying, "Discovery is broad", and explained that even if the district is proven to be immune, that shouldn't stand in the way of depositions.

Discovery is the pre-trial phase of a case when each side can obtain evidence from the opposing side.

Plaintiff attorney Gregg Teeter of the Thomas J. Henry firm told KRIS 6 News after the hearing that they had not yet conceded that the district has immunity.

However, Teeter admitted that part of the reason for the depositions is to gain information that could lead to legal action against a third party or parties.

In a case like this, a third party could be the manufacturer of the insecticide used to treat the field for ants, a contractor who applied it, or otherwise.

During the hearing, Klager suggested the case was resembling more of a product liability case.

Teeter didn't confirm that in the hearing or afterward.

Dates and times for the depositions are still pending.

CCISD attorney Philip Fraissinet said the district has the option of appealing Klager's ruling to the 13th Court of Appeals.

Fraissinet said that decision hasn't been made yet.

Following the death of Espinosa, CCISD conducted its own internal review of the incident.

The recommendations from the review included centralizing games, having more physical exams, and more medical record sharing.

It also suggested improving district policy on crisis response, having more field inspections and providing epi-pens for emergency use for anyone, even students without a documented allergy.

Superintendent Scott Eliff has said that the district is in the process of putting many of those recommendations into action.

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